He was once regarded as one of Guyana’s brightest batting prospect, almost poster boy like and expected to deliver the goods.
However, Steven Jacobs, who is a year shy of his 30th birthday, is today a shadow of the bright batting prospect he once was.
Some have cast blame on the ‘system’ – the structure of Guyana’s cricket for the fall away in his batting while others have attributed his downfall to his own doing.
But whatever the cause, his fall from grace, has been until now unexplained.
At the time of his recognisable batting competence, his leadership credentials were also quite noticeable as he stood tall, commanding his troops with much valour.
He was, and still is, well respected among his peers; classed among a few who ‘knows the game.’
As his story is written, he led Guyana to consecutive titles in the then TCL Regional U19 tournament in 2006 and the year after and then went on to lead a West Indies U19 Select XI in the 2007 KFC Cup as part of their preparation for the 2008 ICC U19 World Cup.
To underline his batsmanship, Jacobs, just prior to that tournament, scored approximately five first-division centuries in that season for his local club side Malteenoes.
He then went on to score another in the 2007 ICC U19 World Cup.
Surely, there was no turning back from there.
Jacobs, however, quickly recognised the complexities of the then national side and adopted his off-spin as his primary focus for which, more than anything else, has kept him relevant, becoming one of Guyana’s most valued asset in the short format of the game.
“When I had started, predominately as a batsman, we had the likes of [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul and [Ramnaresh] Sarwan in their prime, and I couldn’t really establish a place in the side.
“But after they had tailed off, you had Narsingh [Deonarine] and a couple of the other batsmen in the side, and basically when I was playing, I was doing a lot more bowling, especially in the one-day format. So, I would say, between that time that is where things went wrong for me in terms of my batting because a lot of emphasis was placed on my bowling since I was making a lot of teams as a bowler,” Jacobs explained of his failure to kick on as a batsman.
A look at his numbers would quickly justify his explanation since, after 26 first-class appearances with the bat, he averages a little under 18 after scoring five fifties.
After 38 list-A matches, he has only scored one fifty and averages 14.15.
His bowling, on the other hand, has produced impressive returns. He has captured 54 first-class wickets with his best match haul being 8-91 at an economy rate of 2.57.
In the shorter format, where he has been most effective, Jacobs has an economy rate of 3.23 after taking 38 wickets with a best of 4-21.
His T20 numbers are also not that bad, as he bowls at an economy rate of just under seven. Those numbers, for the most part, were achieved bowling alongside either or both Devendra Bishoo and Veerasammy Permaul.
Jacobs, nonetheless, feels that he is still able to contribute with the bat and is even sourcing a coach to assist in this regard.
“To date, it still feels that I have the ability to provide some runs with the bat. I’ve done it in the recent past in the four-day tournament.
“So, for me, it’s just getting back where I was. There is still time, and I’m actually looking for a coach to assist in that capacity heading into the CPL, and I feel that with time things could still happen,” he pointed out.
His assertions are spot on since he would indeed need to contribute more substantively with the bat if he is to retain his place in either of the Jaguars’ line up.
He has all the more reason to focus on his contributions with the willow as many have felt that his lean returns were the main factor for him being dropped from this year’s Regional one-day tournament for the Jamaican, Ramaal Lewis.